How to become an Automotive Technician or Mechanic in South Dakota

If you want a career that allows you to use your problem-solving skills as well as work with your hands, the automotive industry is for you. A career in auto mechanics has many benefits including a stable job market and good pay. There are numerous positions available in this sector such as: car service technicians, body workers, glass repairers/installers, truck service technicians and diesel mechanics – just to name a few!

Requirements for becoming an Automotive Service Technician or Mechanic in South Dakota

Although auto mechanics in South Dakota are not legally required to have a license, having extra education will give you an edge when searching for employment as most employers prefer to hire candidates who have a higher education or a certificate in auto mechanics.

Some of the topics covered by an automotive technology program may include:

  • Collision repair: This includes repair and replacement of body parts as well as painting.
  • Engine repair: Servicing, repairing, and replacing engines and engine components.
  • Electrical systems: Installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical systems found in cars.
  • Suspension and steering: Repairing the suspension and steering systems found in cars.
  • Brakes: Installing, repairing, and maintaining brakes systems.
  • Tires: Installing and repairing tires on vehicles.
  • Auto maintenance: Diagnosing problems and performing maintenance on vehicles.

In addition to these topics, an automotive technology program will also teach you safety protocols as well as how to use the necessary tools and equipment.

Auto Mechanic Schools in South Dakota

South Dakota is home to two technical schools that offer automotive technology programs:

  • Lake Area Technical Institute Located in Sioux Falls, is a NATEF-accredited school that offers both a certificate program in custom paint and fabrication and an associate degree program in auto technology.
  • Southeast Technical College Located in Sioux Falls, is a NATEF-accredited school that offers an associate degree program in auto technology.

Both programs include classroom instruction as well as hands-on training. Upon successful completion of the program you will be prepared to take the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification tests in order to become a certified ASE technician.

ASE Certification

ASE Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence guarantees that a mechanic has successfully completed a skills and knowledge test to meet the rigorous standards of the auto technology industry.

To become certified, you must pass at least one ASE certification exam and have relevant work experience. These exams cover a variety of specific areas, which include but are not limited to:

  • Light repair certification test
  • Engine machinist certification tests
  • Truck equipment certification tests
  • School bus certification tests
  • Transit bus certification tests
  • Parts specialist certification tests
  • Collision repair and refinish certification tests
  • Damage analysis and estimating certification test
  • Light truck certification tests
  • Alternate fuels certification test

Once you have completed an ASE certification exam and passed, you can list yourself as a certified technician on resumes and job applications. This may give you a competitive edge when looking for auto tech positions.

In addition to this, obtaining your ASE Certification will demonstrate your competency in the automotive industry and increase your credibility with employers, thus helping you to build a successful career as an auto technician in South Dakota.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The automotive technology industry is growing and expected to continue to do so in the coming years. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for automotive service technicians and mechanics in South Dakota is projected to increase by 2.9% from 2020 to 2030.

As for wages, the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics in South Dakota is $46,520 annually or $22,75 hourly. Bus and truck mechanics and diesel specialist earned an average of $47,990 annually or $23,07 hourly. This was followed by auto body and related repairers, who earned an average salary of $47,320 annually or $22.75 hourly. While glass installers and repairers earned an annual average of $46,520.

Auto Mechanic Salaries in South Dakota by Region

RegionTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Rapid City, SD330$21,92$45,590
Sioux Falls, SD610$24,05$50,020

Working as an Auto Mechanic in South Dakota

There are a variety of career opportunities for auto mechanics in South Dakota. You could choose to work in dealerships, independent repair shops, or specialty repair shops. With the right training and certifications you can also open your own automotive repair business.

No matter which option you choose, having a good understanding of different car systems and components as well as the ability to diagnose and repair a variety of auto problems is essential in the automotive service industry.


  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2022 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,